South African Medical Journal

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Teleradiology in KwaZuluNatal

Peter Corr


Objective. This was a pilot teleradiology project connecting two secondary KwaZulu-Natal hospitals' radiography departments to a central Durban teaching hospital. The purpose of the study was to assess the usefulness of same-day teleradiology reports to the medical staff and whether such a service changed patient management.
Design. After 1 month's service at each hospital, the first 200 teleradiology reports, original radiographs and patients' case notes were reviewed to determine whether any errors in interpretation of the radiographs had been made and whether the reports had changed patient management.
Results. The service changed patient management in 10% of cases. Undetected pathology was recognised by the radiologist in 20 patients - pulmonary tuberculosis in 10, spinal tuberculosis in 3, miliary tuberculosis in 2 and fractures in 5. Problems were encountered with transmission of data using the current telephone network, loss of data at the receiving station and the increased workload of the radiographer transmitting the data.
Conclusions. Teleradiology services do make a positive impact on patient management in rural hospitals. However, there are many technical pitfalls that must be avoided in order to establish an effective service.

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